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Oral history interview with Renate Wasserman, Beatrice Muchman, and Wendy Muchman

Oral History | Accession Number: 2016.297.1 | RG Number: RG-50.030.0899

Wendy Muchman was born in Oklahoma in 1956 to Beatrice Muchman (née Westheimer) born in 1933 in Berlin, Germany and Irwin Muchman born in Chicago, Illinois in 1933. She discusses her parents marrying around 1954; her brother Robby, born in 1958, who was later killed by a drunk driver; her paternal grandmother born on a ship traveling to the US and her paternal grandfather likely born in the US as he served in WWI; her mother and grandmother arriving in NY in 1946 after her mother was hidden in Belgium during World War II; her mother being adopted by her maternal aunt Margaret Loewy and her husband, Werner Loewy in Chicago; the adopted parents speaking to Wendy about her maternal grandparents who were killed while escaping from the Germans, but did not talk about them to her mother; after Werner died, finding a 3-ring binder of letters in French, German and English from her mother’s parents to the adopted parents; one letter from her maternal grandmother to Aunt Margaret asked her to take care of Wendy’s mother, Beatrice, if anything happened to her; in 2014 finding a letter from her cousin, Mindy Malinoff Loewy, who is Fanny Muchman’s sister; Mindy and her husband, Doug Loewy are interested in genealogy and contacted Ancestry.com; finding information on grandfather Julius Westheimer; and discovering a large Westheimer family on the East Coast, including cousin Renate and her daughter, Sherrie Gordon on Wendy’s Westheimer (mother’s father’s) side.

Beatrice (née Westheimer, Trixie) Muchman was born on June 5, 1933 and Renate Wasserman was born on October 27, 1933, both in Berlin; they discuss not knowing each other in Berlin, and only slightly when attending the same high school in Chicago; Beatrice being greeted by Joe Westheimer, 19 years old, a second cousin, when she arrived in New York but never saw him again; moving to Chicago where her adopted parents lived; both women attending the same high school and college, the University of Illinois; Renate’s parents managing Max Westheimer’s meat shop in Germany; her parents fleeing to Bulgaria for work, and leaving Renate in Berlin with her grandmother; Renate’s father coming to the US, and Renate, her mother, and other relatives joining him in New York in April 1937; moving to Chicago in 1940; Beatrice and Renate both living on Hyde Park Boulevard; Aunt Margaret, Beatrice’s adopted mother, searching for a sponsor for Beatrice’s father, and contacting Max Westheimer in Houston, but he was not a relative; learning in June 2016 that Beatrice’s paternal grandfather and Renate’s grandfather were brothers; Renate’s daughter, Sherrie, went on Ancestry.com and found the family information; Bertha Westheimer Hamburger was the youngest of 11 children in Mannheim, Germany, and came to NY and provided visas for the rest of the family; Renate is Beatrice’s 2nd cousin and read her book, “Never be Forgotten”; learning that Beatrice’s paternal grandfather, Julius Westheimer’s father, died when he was six and he was raised by a different family; Beatrice thinking her father was an orphan and has not seen him since she was seven; and Renate and Beatrice already feel close even though they have just met.


Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Interviewee
Wasserman, Ms. Renate
Muchman, Ms. Beatrice
Muchman, Wendy
Interviewer
Navazelskis, Ina
Date
interview:  2016 September 27
Geography
creation: Chicago (Ill.)
Language
English
Genre/Form
Oral histories.
Extent
2 digital files : MPEG-4.
 
Record last modified: 2022-06-24 20:16:54
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn550880